by Tony Chapelle
I am unfamiliar with Tony Chapelle’s previous work in the “Gilbard” series of which this is the fourth. The introduction states that, despite being the sequel, Kindred stands on its own and I very much agree. There is a completeness in this book, an expertly told exposition which offers all the back history required.
This is not a gripping drama or a mystery novel but a cleverly woven family tale that connects four generations beginning with Adelaide Gilbard (whom I assume is the subject of previous works in the series) in the mid-eighteen hundreds with a linear thread to her great-great-granddaughter Gus Ashcott-Gilbard in 2017.
All in all, this is a beautifully told love story which is cleverly revealed by alternating between the perspectives of Tela and Jamie and interspersed with readings from Adelaide’s journal. The main characters lead what appear to be very different lives in unquestionable acceptance of one other. The slice of life approach to the telling is refreshing and I found myself feeling like I was, at times, simply catching up with the news of some friendly neighbours.
However, it is also a social commentary on what has changed, and more importantly, not changed since the colonisation of Aotearoa; a hint of what a life in New Zealand is like for those whose skin is not Pakeha white. Add to that a tale of loss, of moving on or of accepting one’s lot in life, it is all here. The characters are beautifully drawn and the back stories are subtly sprinkled through the chapters to create a very believable journey walking alongside the family.
It took a chapter or two to get used to the construct but, once that was clear, I was engaged to the end. I would say also that the feelings of loyalty and devotion of the last seventy odd pages sit with me still.
Author: Tony Chapelle
Publisher: Rangitawa Publishing
RRP: paperback: $35; ebook $3.40
Available: Bruce McKenzie Booksellers and other selected bookshops; through on-line booksellers including Amazon, and through Amazon for Kindle.